Bon Viveur at the Connaught

A review of the Connaught Hotel's restaurant found in Bon Viveur's London & the British Isles (Dakers, London 1955). Bon Viveur was a pseudonym for Fanny Cradock and her husband the fly-whiskered Johnny.They later became celebrity TV chefs. The style is of its time, revelling in luxury after the austerity of the decade since the war -'shriek for grilled kidneys...'

Where Maitre Chef de Cuisine Pierre Toulemont rules the kitchens the restaurant must inevitably prosper. The Connaught is severely English in the most distinguished manner. The wine butler stalks majestically across the panelled dining room bearing the silver salvo which, from time immemorial has been the proper platter from which to proffer (decanted) port. Overseas visitors will capture here some of the nostalgic atmosphere of old London where rendezvous with gastronomy is kept by the subjects of King Edward VII, King George V, King Edward VIII, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

Let us not commit the solecism of discussing price, beyond stating that the best is never cheap– a repellent word in any context – but is seldom exorbitant – that is reserved for the fashionable, which is quite another thing.

Choose Oeufs Poché en  Surprise, the eggs tucked into a foaming casket of soufflé Parmesan, that superb Faisan a la Creme which is sent to table reposing on a couch of chestnut purée.  Confer with M.Charles concerning grouse, pheasants, partridges, with sliced truffles slipped beneath their breasts skins before roasting, dream of the dinner of your choice now that all is free again and ask that it is prepared to you with classic expertise. Throw back, if you must, to the Edwardian breakfast and shriek for grilled kidneys,kedgeree,York ham, grilled sole… you'll get them. Desire foie gras aux raisins... Brioche de foie gras…a mousse of caviar… a boned bird in feuilletage Lucullus… You will be served. We need scarcely add the bedrooms are irreproachable (£2-£3 per night doubles £3.10 shillings to 5 guineas) or that, as you might expect, no extra charge is made for room service.

Note: 2013 prices are almost exactly 100 times 1955 prices.

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